Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences


Pharmacy Administration

First Advisor

John P. Bentley

Second Advisor

Victoria Bush

Third Advisor

Donna West-Strum

Relational Format



Customers can have an existing relationship with a service provider where they are not satisfied with the services they receive, yet they continue to patronize the service provider. Why does this happen? Why do these customers remain as patrons of service providers that do not meet expectations and that leave these customers with low satisfaction. This dissertation presents the concept of tolerance to explain the retention of customers who are not satisfied with a service provider. Specifically, this dissertation examined the concept of customer tolerance in community pharmacy. Tolerance is an important concept for consideration because regardless of good intentions and efforts to provide quality service, customers will be disappointed, mistakes will be made by service providers, and service failures will occur. With a dearth of marketing literature focused on the concept of customer tolerance, other streams of literature were examined to inform this dissertation. Based on theoretical reasoning and evidence identified in the literature, hypotheses were generated to evaluate the concept of customer tolerance in community pharmacy. Hypothesis 1: service quality is positively associated with customer tolerance hypothesis 2: customer tolerance is negatively associated with switching intentions hypothesis 3: psychological switching costs (commitment) are positively associated with customer tolerance hypothesis 4: economic switching costs are positively associated with customer tolerance before hypotheses about factors related to customer tolerance could be tested, a measurement of tolerance needed to be created because existing measures were not available. Two measures of tolerance were created for this dissertation; an indirect measure of tolerance that measured action-based tolerance and a direct measure of tolerance that measured trait-based tolerance. Action-based tolerance was operationalized as satisfaction and switching intentions, evaluated simultaneously. Trait-based tolerance was operationalized by a 4-item scale that was developed as part of this dissertation using methods introduced by Churchill (1979) which included interviews with customers to develop items, face validity evaluation to edit the list of items, a national consumer survey to analyze data and finalize the list of items before applying the items within a final survey where data could be analyzed to validate the 4-item scale. Using the final survey data, analytical models were evaluated to test the study hypotheses. The model results indicated support for hypotheses 1 and 2 suggesting that perceptions of service quality are positively related to action-based customer tolerance and that trait-based customer tolerance is negatively related to switching intentions. The results also indicated partial support for hypothesis 4, but only that a farther distance to the nearest pharmacy was positively related to action-based tolerance. The model results did not indicate support for the other economic switching costs that were included for hypothesis 4, nor did the results indicate support for hypothesis 3 regarding the association between psychological switching costs and action-based tolerance. This dissertation successfully introduced the concept customer tolerance in the retail, community pharmacy setting. Customer tolerance was conceptualized as the endurance of hardship and the two types of tolerance were proposed; trait-based tolerance and action-based tolerance. A measure for trait tolerance was successfully developed and partially validated for this dissertation. The measure of trait tolerance was related to action tolerance as expected and will be a useful tool for future studies of consumer behavior and relationship marketing. Using the measures of customer tolerance developed for this dissertation, evidence regarding the factors related to tolerance and those that may not be related to tolerance were presented.


Emphasis: Pharmacy Administration



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